14 February 1997

Whole-crop snips beef costs

BEEF animals have finished at under 50p/kg of liveweight gain when fed fermented whole-crop wheat on one Yorkshire farm.

So the audience at the Maize Growers Association whole-crop conference last week was told by farm manager Ian Burton, Marton Hall Farm, Skipton.

The feed costs compared well with claims made for cereal systems at 75-80p/kg gain and grass systems at 51p/kg gain, he added. And even in this difficult year the beef enterprise made a margin.

The farms costs for rearing bulls from its 150-cow dairy herd were based on feeding fermented whole-crop ad lib from 12 weeks until finishing. Bulls ate a total of 5.3t a head of whole-crop supplemented with 1kg a head a day of a 20% protein blend.

"Blends of under 20% protein resulted in lower production, but when over 20% protein was fed there was little benefit," said Mr Burton.

The bulls, finished at 13-15 months old, were mainly Holstein Friesian, with some Simmental and Charolais crosses and averaged 1.12kg a day liveweight gain. "Feeding whole-crop produces a lean animal that the buyer wants," he said. Bulls weighed 500-550kg and killed out well at a fat class of 2 to 4. Other benefits of feeding whole-crop were good animal health with no metabolic problems and low bedding costs compared with wetter diets.

Mr Burton grows wheat for whole-crop because the cold, wet climate is unsuitable for maize for the dairy herd. He also claimed it was unlikely the wheat grain would ripen enough to combine it.

&#8226 Winner of the first MGA whole-crop silage competition is John Hatherell, Lower Oldbury Farm, Didmarton, Glos. &#42

Whole-crop wheat helps provide a low-cost diet for Ian Burtons bull beef.


Beef systems comparison with Marton Hall feeding whole-crop

Cereals*Silage/Marton

conc*Hall

Days at

slaughter348435420

Deadweight260266280

Daily liveweight

gain (kg)1.251.01.13

Calf cost120120120

Vet, med and

rearing616161

Concs25212572

Forage costNil11682

Var costs433422335

Output @ £1.75/kg

deadweight455465490

Margin/animal2243155

Whole-crop at Marton Hall Farm is grown without area aid.

*Average figures based on SAC Farm Management Handbook.